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When I first heard the news that Michael Jackson had died I immediately dismissed it. I thought it was a cruel rumor that was being circulated. I got into the elevator with a black woman who looked visibly shaken and I asked her did she hear about it. She confirmed that it was true. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. on June 25, 2009. As the elevator sank toward the ground floor, my heart sunk with it. Like most black people, I felt as though I had lost a childhood friend. Losing a childhood friend can be more painful than losing a distant relative because of the historical bond you share. When a childhood friend dies, a part of your life dies with them. Such was the case for me and millions of others who had the pleasure of growing up with Michael Jackson. Unlike any artist in history, Michael Jackson was able to cast a wide net of popularity over generations of people which cut through genres, cultures, nations, races, and all ages. It was a feat that will likely never be accomplished again. His influence is readily seen in today's top contemporary music artists like Usher, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, and Ne-Yo. They share some similarities, but they will never be on Michael Jackson's level. I've heard the term "superstar" used to describe Michael Jackson along with similar descriptions such as "megastar," and "worldwide superstar" because of his recognition around the globe. Those references fall short because they are too complex. He is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived. He's also the most underrated vocalist of our time. He picked up where James Brown left off with his pure, powerful soulfulness and unsurpassed dancing skills. James Brown had moves. Michael Jackson had moves and choreography. He mesmerized white teenage audiences with greater effect than Elvis. Elvis had charm. Michael Jackson had charm and unprecedented energy. He crossed over and was embraced by white audiences in a way that Prince had only dreamed of. Prince had crossover appeal. Michael Jackson had crossover appeal and successfully crossed over. Young children were also drawn to and excited by Michael Jackson and his music in an inexplicable way that no music artist has ever been able to come close to. That's what made him the greatest. But now he's gone. Never to be forgotten, and never to be replaced. Gone are the possibilities for a comeback that so many of us were hoping for. Gone are the chances for musical, commercial, and social redemption. As strongly as I'm tempted to point out the derisive treatment of Michael Jackson over the years by white people I have to cautiously refrain, but his original fan base (and most loyal in the U.S.)
consisted of the black families who, at least visually, resembled his own. At a time when black pride was wavering, Michael Jackson made every young black boy in America feel that they too could be a Pop star and viewed as "cute"; if they had the requisite afro and psychedelic 70s attire. White people also loved Michael Jackson. They recognized and rewarded his extraordinary talents and creativity when he was allowed to be the first black artist to have a video played on MTV; a move that positioned him as the King Of Pop and ignited record sales of Thriller, the best selling album of all time. Michael Jackson is as much a part of their lives - and occupies as big of a space in their hearts as he does in the hearts of most black people; however, it's the white media that has shown irreverence for the last decade by dogging him at every given chance. By choosing to focus on his eccentricities (to which Michael Jackson responded with his song, Leave Me Alone), prosecuting him in the court of public opinion after he was legally acquitted for molestation, and disparagingly referring to him as "Wacko Jacko," the white media certainly contributed to his mounting stress over the years, and short-term exile from the U.S. Michael Jackson was not physically well, nor physically fit. We took for granted the amount of preparation, discipline, energy, and hard work that he put into being the greatest entertainer that ever lived. The trait of all professionals is how easy they make things look. Michael Jackson performances were well-rehearsed, and characterized by flawless precision and timing. He made them look easy, but they were a physically demanding and often exhaustive undertaking; one that a younger, healthier Michael Jackson was conditioned to executing. The older, physically and mentally distressed Michael Jackson was never going to be able to honor 50 performance dates. It would have been the equivalent of Michael Jordan coming back at the age of 50 and trying to compete at the same (athletic) level in a playoff game; it's just not possible. Drugs might make it seem possible, but only for a fleeting moment. Entertainers, like athletes, have a hard time letting go of what once was, in exchange for what now is: a feeble body that can not generate the type of performance that the public has grown accustomed to seeing. Usually when it happens you step-down. But Michael Jackson attempted to step-up. Still carrying the distinction as perhaps the last black artist who can sell out a stadium, and being painfully aware of his increasing physical limitations, he attempted to cater to the desires of his fiercely loyal fans just one more time. He would tour again and restore himself (and reputation) via the platform on which he is most comfortable, and the one that launched his illustrious career: the stage. The This Is It Tour was set to begin in July, 2009. Michael Jackson (who had not performed on this level in over 8 years) knew what the fans would be expecting: the old Michael Jackson. Like any polished professional who is aware of his brand, he attempted to deliver on those expectations. What medications/drugs he took (which may have jeopardized his health in order to honor those expectations) may never be known.
What is known is that Michael Jackson issued a call to action himself, in response to requests from his fans to honor them one more time with his physical presence. He agreed; but with the condition that this would be it. So the man who created magical Pop music in the 70s that instantly transported people to happier times in their lives; defined an era; set the world on fire during his mesmerizing solo performance on the Motown 25 TV special with his "moonwalk" and single glitter glove in the 80s; legitimized music videos as an art form and valid promotional tool; and created songs that would be a part of the soundtrack to people's lives, was set to thrill audiences once again. But it was never to be. In a time in which so many artists superficially blurt out "I love you" to their fans, Michael's love of his fans, and his desire to satisfy them, defined his life, and may have possibly ended it. Soon there will be the airing of unreleased recordings, documentaries, TV tributes, and movies to commemorate his life, but Michael's legacy is his influence which (present and future) music artists will be affected by and measured against. And, of course, his sensational music catalogue which remains unparalleled and further distances him from today's "stars." It contains songs that will carry on, in various incarnations, forever. As will our memories. Rest in peace Michael Jackson. He truly deserves both the rest and the peace.
Gian Fiero is an educator, speaker and consultant who specializes in business development, career planning, and personal growth issues.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gian_Fiero
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